Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Manners and Spirit of a People

Sometimes we can look back at the pure brilliance of the founding fathers a absorb some insight. In Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia (1784) there is a extremely pertinent indicator of some of the current political malaise within our great republic. I include the lead in to the fantastic observation as an aside. Many people on both sides of the spectrum have questions about outsourcing jobs. My snide remark would be that Jefferson was all for it. But in seriousness, he has already seen the manners and principles of the mobs in the cities of Europe, and found them wanting. This is the same group of workers that form the backbone of socialism thirty years later. Anyhow, let some light in:

While we have land to labour then, let us never wish to see our citizens occupied at a work-bench, or twirling a distaff. Carpenters, masons, smiths, are wanting in husbandry: but, for the general operations of manufacture, let our workshops remain in Europe. It is better to carry provisions and materials to workmen there, than bring them to the provisions and materials, and with them their manners and principles. The loss by the transportation of commodities across the Atlantic will be made up in happiness and permanence of government. The mobs of great cities add just so much to the support of pure government, as sores do to the strength of the human body. It is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigour. A degeneracy in these is a canker which soon eats to the heart of its laws and constitution.

The mobs of great cities are like sores? Does that have any application today? And these mobs, what cesspool do they represent in terms of modern political philosophy? Now we find out how to preserve a republic in vigour. The preservation relies on the the manners and spirit of a people. When our manners become base, and we display a degenerate spirit, we begin to destroy the basis for our laws and constitution. I have chills....

A startling observation I would make here relates to the 2004 presidential election. There is a amazing map of counties that voted democrat or republican respectively, and I think we can compare Jefferson's observation to this map (mobs in big cities are blue). I would not say that every big city is infected with liberal socialism, but most are. And urban discontent is the perfect breeding ground for the canker of modern liberal socialism. We should focus the vaccine of freedom in these mentally diseased areas. This is mild break with Jefferson's idea of the time (no constitution hammered out yet), we can't isolate ourselves from the world to protect our 'pure government' in the modern era. We have to emphasize and support the betterment of manners and the enhancement of the spirit in the whole population. That is the true prescription.

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